Foster families helping children during coronavirus pandemic

Embrace Families using virtual training for future foster parents

Adult and child hands holding red heart
Adult and child hands holding red heart (Getty Images)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Future foster families are continuing their training during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure there are enough parents available to help kids in need.

Tara Tellier and Frances Cruz are opening their home and their hearts to foster children and they're hoping to one day adopt a child they help.

"We decided a long time ago that this would be something we are interested in," Tellier said.

They are working with Embrace Families, the organization helps place children in foster homes in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

Tellier and Cruz started their training with in-person classes, but the COVID-19 outbreak forced the nonprofit to embrace new changes to their program and switch to online classes.

Cruz said they couldn't stop, even during a pandemic.

“I like the fact that we did start in the classroom and went to Zoom instead of saying, ‘What’s going on in the world stops everything,’” Cruz said. “These kids, they don’t get to stop what they’re living through.”

Glen Casel, the CEO of Embrace Families, said they are filling a need. He said child abuse reports are down during the pandemic with schools closed and people staying home. Casel said there could be a spike in reports when life returns to normal and they have to be ready.

"It's an obligation for us to be prepared for that and that means continuing that menu of foster families available that may be on the ready," Casel said.

Dr. Donald Plumley with Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital said in the last two months they had 19 children come in with serious injuries required hospitalizations. He is hoping as the state reopens these severe child abuse cases will drop.

"I think as things start to open up and you can have visitors, you can go outside your house, it just takes that pressure off," Dr. Plumley said.

Tellier and Cruz said they know the need is there and they're hoping others will find room in their hearts to help Central Florida children.

"Our community needs it and we need it now. We can't wait," Tellier said.

Click here for more information on Embrace Families and how you can become a foster parent.

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